I had in mind taking a picture of a Hot Wheels car on a mirror with two parallel lines of flames extending from the tires. I wanted more of an orange flame so I had to come up with something that was flammable that would burn the color I wanted. I thought of using hand sanitizer but since it has a high alcohol content it would burn blue. (The gel itself, it turns out is quite conspicuous in the shot too.) Along my travels this weekend I came across a cleanser called "Goof Off" which is basically a alcohol and petroleum based solvent.
Sunday my wife and I went to the mall and I made a stop at Toys R' Us for my car - a 2010 Infiniti G37. (Sweet ride for a toy car!).
The mirror I had wasn't going to work so I bought a cheap door mirror from Wal-mart for about 7 bucks. I removed the frame from it that it wouldn't show up in the image. (The thing was practically falling apart so that part was easy).
The next part I had to think about a bit more. How the heck would I light it? I initially thought of just bouncing flash off my umbrella but I knew it would scatter all over and hit my background. I also wanted a fairly edgy looking light. I settled on going with a bare flash zoomed out and snooted to get the beam nice and tight on the car. I decided I wanted a blue look to the lighting on the car so I put a blue gel on it.
With everything setup (and my fire extinguisher handy) I did some test shots of just the car to get my lighting down. I noticed that the front side of my car was a little dark so I just used a small reflector to throw some fill light on that side. The results were pretty good. I was shooting at f/9 and everything looked like it was in focus when I did a depth of field preview. It turns out it wasn't...f/11 might have worked better but my flash was having troubles keeping up anyways which sucked.
Once I had my lighting down I played with different flame configurations. I quickly learned that the flammable liquid I had chosen was quite thin so I couldn't run the two parallel lines I had envisioned. It also burned quite quickly so I had really only one shot before it burnt out. Once it was out I had to clean the mirror and set everything back up again. Grrr....
I did try the hand sanitizer and while it burned slowly the flame was blue as I expected and as mentioned above, you could actually see the gel in the shot which wasn't going to do.
After a couple of tries to get even a single line of fire behind the car I realized that my original idea wasn't going to work so I decided to make an arc of fluid on the mirror behind the car and I was a bit more liberal with the application. Bingo! Lots of good flames and I had a chance to shoot a couple of frames.
You can check out the setup here.